Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Companies target powerful Hispanic consumer base

September 25, 2013

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Each fall I typically post a collection of resources for reporters seeking business and economy stories that reflect their audience’s Hispanic members, in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15-Oct. 15.  And each year, as the influence of Hispanic business owners, executives, consumers and cultures grows, I find a growing trove of interesting angles and sources.

As with any commemorative month, week or day, industry interests look for tie-ins, and government and non-profits also post factoids, articles and research.  This year is no exception. If you’re on the fence about whether such an angle is applicable to your market, check out this Pew Research Center report, “Mapping the Latino Population by State, County and City,” which was just released in August.  In addition to state-level data, the report breaks out the numbers for 60 metropolitan areas, including age (+/- 18), share of overall population, share of foreign-born population, and other statistics.

Interestingly the report also breaks out nation of origin rather than lumping all people of Hispanic heritage together.  I suspect this could be interesting from a marketing perspective if you decide to focus on the consumer angle. How do marketers differ in targeting Cuban vs. Mexican vs. Guatemalan clientele, for example? Are there business niches, products, skills and expertise, and even retail districts in your area that vary from one heritage group to another? How did the migration pattern in your area get established, relative to jobs, business opportunities, etc. over the past decades?  Here is a National Parks Service report on Latino  immigration and migration that touches on the issue, though I wish it dug deeper; scroll down to the economics section for info about the settlement patterns of people from various Central and South American nations.  My point is that by identifying similar patterns or pockets of people in your area, you might find some interesting stories of multi-generational businesses, crafts/skills/trades where Hispanic people in your community have made contributions, or vice versa of factors that have stymied the economic and business growth of those residents.

I love stories that track marketing to Hispanic consumers; this recent piece from the USA Today “Hispanic Living” publication that notes that automakers are creating ads featuring Latino entertainment stars; Forbes just called the demographic “the last true growth market” and this article that emphasizes data-driven marketing is chock full of potential sources – and this August report from Nielsen says the real power is shifting to Latinas, who by a combination of upward mobility and growth in population share are becoming a dominant force in the U.S. consumer market.

One thing to ask marketers — how do campaigns targeting this female demographic differ from traditional U.S. ad campaigns.  I was struck by a visit to a South American country by the personas in TV commercials.  Moms in U.S. campaigns for dish soap, yogurt and the like always seem to be in sensible crew-neck tops and serviceable bobbed hairdos; the moms in ads for the same products but aimed at a different audience featured moms in camisoles and hip-hugging jeans, kissing their handsome husbands in the background as little Nino gobbled his yogurt.  I thought it was great and wondered about the ramifications for U.S. products that have traditionally stressed their sex-free status.  What nuances are firms on your beat accommodating as they work to appeal to wider audiences?

Why not contact any and every consumer goods maker, services provider, manufacturer, etc., on your beat and ask what their current and planned marketing, strategic planning and product R&D are doing to satisfy this market?   Here’s a Financial Times article that gives concrete examples of how companies are wooing the $1 trillion-plus Hispanic market.

Taking a look at Hispanic marketing via social media might be a good fit for reporters on the technology, consumer goods or retail beats; Hispansize, a consulting and content group specializing in social media, has an informative website full of trend analysis and research data.

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